Interest in the United Kingdom drive to curb European Union migrant benefits is gaining support beyond its borders. At least five countries in the EU are looking into backing an initiative which could restrict welfare benefits for immigrants in member states, according to the Financial Times.
One of the original propositions by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron was a four-year waiting period before immigrants to the U.K. could receive benefits. But the proposal was opposed by most member states, which felt the idea went against on the Union’s nondiscrimination rules and principles of free movement between member states. Cameron backed down on the proposal in December, according to the Independent. However, he is looking into other reforms, such as an “emergency brake,” which would restrict the number of immigrants flowing into its borders.
Austria, Denmark, France, Germany and the Netherlands were among the countries expressing interest in some of the proposed U.K. reforms.
The reform demands are part of a larger push to strike a deal between the U.K. and the EU, in order to keep it from exiting the 28-country union. A deal to keep the U.K. in is expected to be brokered in Brussels during a two-day summit that starts Feb. 18, according to the Associated Press.
Alternatively, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Cameron have also looked into the idea of revising the definition of a worker in the EU, according to sources speaking to the Financial Times. The reason for this is under EU law, the definition of workers in the union is very broad and doesn’t have any residency requirements or a minimum earnings requirement. By narrowing the definition of a worker in the Union, the U.K. and Germany could indirectly reduce how many people residing in one of the member states have access to worker benefits.